To borrow a sports analogy, yesterday was a bit of a “game of two halves”. There was good, bad and ugly all thrown in from different sources. I thought I’d highlight them both in this post.

The good fantastic

After decades pushing the vision and years of hard work by some amazingly dedicated people, yesterday it was confirmed that Skypath will be granted consent.

Skypath Consent - From Westhaven

Consent was initially issued in July last year however as expected, some of the groups who have long opposed Skypath appealed to the Environment Court. Earlier this year two of those groups dropped out, the Herne Bay Residents Association claiming it would never happen anyway, and the Northcote Point Residents Association (NRA) who saying they couldn’t afford the costs that would sought against them if they lost. That left just the Northcote Point Heritage Preservation Society (NPHPS), a group set up only a few years ago and run by many of the same people as the NRA, to challenge the project in court.

In their appeal, the NPHPS sought some absurdly strict conditions placed on the project, likely in a bid to make it not viable. Our friends at Bike Auckland have more details, including the council’s response but below are the conditions the NPHPS wanted.

  • limiting entry to between 6am – 7pm (with exit permitted until 10pm), and
  • imposing a daily maximum limit of 1440 movements in and out of the Northern landing (NB this number has been revised upwards from earlier proposals, which were in the low hundreds), with trips to be booked online.

Insane, imagine trying to suggest someone impose those kinds of conditions on a road project, or perhaps even the Harbour Bridge.

Thankfully today Judge Newhook verbally confirmed that the consent would be issued. There may be a refinement of the conditions, such as allowing for the impacts on the point to be reviewed after construction but not the crazy demands the NPHPS tried for. Anyone out there who doesn’t think that if costs are awarded against the NPHPS that they’ll fold, not paying their debts?

All up awesome news and well done to everyone who’s been involved in getting this over the line, especially Bevan Woodward who has been pushing the project from the start.

The bad and the ugly

Yesterday evening I attended a community workshop/discussion about the East-West Link (while Auckland Transport tried to change the name to East-West Connections, the NZTA are using East-West Link). The purpose of the event was to discuss the project and issues in advance of the NZTA notifying it to the Environmental Protection Authority, something they intend to do in early December – just a month away. The EPA process was also used for Waterview, Puhoi to Warkworth and the Basin Reserve and means that a binding decision will be made within nine months of notification.

Given how much work goes into preparing for an EPA process, it means there’s unlikely to be a lot, if any change from what they showed. This suggests that the event was more of a box ticking exercise while also making sure they’re prepared in advance for the main issues that people will criticise them on. They did claim the design will evolve as the over the course of the process, like it did with Waterview but it’s unlikely to change all that much.

A key feature of the evening was the NZTA showing some of their latest designs for the project and there appear to have been some changes since we last saw them. For now we’re stuck with some phone photos but I’m sure they’ll release higher quality versions online in time.

The first and most obvious thing you may notice in the images below are the connections around Onehunga. I’ll come back to that in more detail later. Next you may notice the large areas of reclamation that are now proposed, this is quite different to the stark straight lines we saw in some earlier designs. These serve both to deal with stormwater and serve as mitigation to plonking a giant road down over what is currently a bit of a hidden gem. Through these areas are meant to be walking and cycling connections, including a boardwalk over the water between those two areas that jut out.

One of the big changes not really evident from these images is that the road had been pushed back and is now almost all on the existing land along the waterfront (where the cycleway is). This is mainly due to the difficulty they would otherwise have had in getting consent to reclaim land. There will still be some reclamation though, mainly for a bund to help stop stuff leaching into the harbour like it currently does.

east-west-overall-design-1

Further east you can see the connections to SH1 which includes upgrades through to past Princess St. The section over the port car storage area through to Gt South Rd is about a 1.4km long viaduct – one of the reasons the project is so expensive. One aspect they did confirm is that it has apparent the design allows for grade separation of the rail junction.

east-west-overall-design-2

Here are a couple of cross sections. The cycleway on the foreshore side but next to the road was described as a ‘high speed cycleway’

east-west-foreshore-road-cross-section

east-west-foreshore-road-cross-section-2

As mentioned, here’s a closer look at the design at the Onehunga end, perhaps best described as a sea of roads. One thing that I did learn was that the area past the port will actually be in a bit of a trench so will be partially hidden from the port area. The graphics are shown over the motorway bridge for clarity but they will be under it in real life.

east-west-onehunga-interchange-design

and here’s a more artistic view of it.

east-west-onehunga-interchange-design-artistic

Unfortunately, the photos I took of the design elements (highlighted by the pins) didn’t really come out well. It’s also not clear just how rail of any kind will get through this area if it’s getting to the airport.

The East-West Link is clearly a project that is going to be something that sees a lot of discussion over the next year so.

Share this

46 comments

  1. After the initial excitement dies down those numbers will rarely be met on a daily basis if the stats for the Sydney Harbour bridge cycling is anything to measure against. From Googling those are well under 1000 a day.

    1. Nobody ever claimed they were daily numbers except the opponents. The high numbers were summer weekends with lots of tourists.

    2. A little Googling indicates your number of “well under 1000” is fabricated. It’s more like 2000, despite there being a large set of awkward stairs to navigate at one end. https://bicyclensw.org.au/advocacy/bnsw-projects/sydney-harbour-bridge-north-ramp/, http://www.sydneycycleways.net/city-count-reveals-record-bike-trips/

      That doesn’t include the many people who walk across the bridge on—or enjoy the views from—the pedestrian path on the eastern side.

    3. Hopefully they don’t get numbers like they have on the Golden Gate. Too many idiot pedestrians packed shoulder to shoulder in a stupor blocking the route.

  2. Other than the whole pointless programme of connecting the two stuffed motorways at this point, the Onehunga end is a true dog’s dinner. I agree with the local group’s criticism of both its over complication and doubling down on negative impacts on the local area.

    If nothing else that loop that severs the port and the entirely encircled Gloucester Park should be capped, is it in a trench? Does it go over or under SH20 at each point? It appears to be above the southern crossing and below the northern one?

    Is that shadowy line further east meant to be the ‘future-proofed’ rail crossing?

    There is lovely stand of mature Pohutukawa that somehow avoided the chop when NZTA’s predecessor Transit slashed their way through here with the current brutal scheme… so it goes…

    Additionally this is yet another project that proves that more roads, especially more expensive highways, always lead to two things: More driving, and further more massive highways. The perfect ponzi.

    1. Cyclists? Some 500 plus a day I believe. Plus many more on lightpath itself (700 average I think).

      Not yet including pedestrian numbers (SkyPath numbers is walkers and bikers together, and will get even more tourists than Lightpath)

  3. Great news on SKYpath, well done to all, I’m looking forward to the opening.
    And the CF continues with the east-west whatever. Totally place ruining.

  4. Is that 1.4km viaduct really needed? Are there no alternatives? That would be a good start to cutting down the massive cost of this ridiculous project.

  5. NZTA have learnt nothing to date, especially with regards cycleways and boardwalks.
    They propose a 4m boardwalk for both cycling and walking. As the Orakei boardwalk demonstrates, thats not wide enough to safely accommodate both walkers and cyclists.
    Given they will be trashing the existing one, they need to make the replacement lots better as the demand from walkers and cyclists to use it will grow massively.

    They need 5m width on this, NZTA know this, they are just being penny pinching. the cost of adding 1m width to a boardwalk in the scheme of things is nothing.

    The shared cycleway/walkways by the road are equally cramped – cycleway one side only, with pedestrians on both sides. Why not room for cycleways and pedestrians on both sides?

    The rest of it is the clusterf*ck they said they wouldn’t deliver. And of course, its not just Onehunga who get shafted. Look at the works to be done down both sides of SH1 between Mt Wellington and Princess St and further south. Major widening.

    As for Skypath, another yes, another day, but lets see what NPHPS try and get as “post consent review” conditions during the post-hearing process. No doubt they’ll fold up like a tent when costs are awarded.

  6. What is this East-East Link talk???
    Is the connection under SH1 to Sylvia Park still bus (and cycle) only?? That part of AMETI is the best thing on these images.

  7. If I were Greens/Labour, I would make a promise to the current crop of NZTA/MOT roading engineers that the future mitigation works to build a decent rapid transit link out to the airport will come out of future roading budgets. The consensus may well be that it is a light rail link down Dominion Road and along to the airport and that is fine.

    The point is that it is due to roading engineering design cock-ups, that a rapid transit link out to the airport is going to cost vastly more than it should have/could have.

    I think a $1 billion dollar grab out of the future Auckland/National roading budget to go instead toward airport light rail/heavy rail should just about cover the mess these guys have made.

  8. What the !@#$%^& is a high speed cycleway?? Obviously the mates in road building need new projects once Waterview is done, looks like another spag junction will appear in Mt Wellington 🙁

    1. The next project? Don’t worry about that.

      As soon as this project would be finished, or even before, the beneficiaries of this largesse will be calling for the ‘missing link’ to be completed, i.e.another new road through the warehousing/industrial area to connect the E-W Link with the South-eastern Highway.

      Tack on a few hundred million more, it’s sadly predictable…

    2. high speed cycleway??
      Ha ha! Not if I’m riding it. Or most of the other Nanas that currently use the cycleway 🙂 BTW – Has anyone told the doggie people they’re about to lose one of Auckland’s few off-leash areas?

      1. It looks like only the southeastern tip of Onehunga Bay Reserve might be impacted by a changed off-ramp? Doesn’t seem like a material impact on the off-leash area? The new reclamations not being on Google Maps doesn’t help when trying to work out where things are (although the satellite veiw has them).

        1. The road is smack-dab in that dog area (which by the way never went very well with having a cycleway through the middle!).

          But they are trying to avoid as little reclamation as possible, so that’s where the road goes.

          I guess you can walk your dog on the boardwalks out in the harbour…

          1. I’m talking about the off-leash area that surrounds the Onehunga lagoon (partially visible on the left edge of the largest map), which I use about once a month. Is there another off-leash area involved?

          2. If you are talking about the coastal area over the bridge from the lagoon and park, that is definitely NOT off leash. It is an ecologically sensitive area and marked up with signs for dog owners!!

    3. You’re not actually falling for the idea that NZTA will actually build both cycleways are you?

      NZTA are well practiced masters of
      a) consultation bait-and-switch, per Waterview consent process
      b) politically-orientated value engineering strategy

      Don’t expect more than one cycleway, and expect the changes to be trumpeted as “improvements”…

      1. This is an EPA process. I very much expect them to build all the cycleways the consent requires them to, as they had to at Waterview.

  9. “Anyone out there who doesn’t think that if costs are awarded against the NPHPS that they’ll fold, not paying their debts?”

    Excuse my naivety – what are the consequences for ‘them’ if they do this? I know that Waiheke Marinas went into liquidation following their failed resource consent bid, and I’m not sure what the final financial outcome was there, either.

    1. NPHPS is a little different in that they are a trust so they can simply dissolve the trust and it’s almost impossible for the courts to get back the money the have wasted ($100,000s).

      Waiheke Marinas was a business group I think so they actually went bankrupt and the owners has some exposure.

    2. Given that the ratepayers paid for Skypath trusts legal costs, it is difficult to imagine how they could claim ‘costs’ against anyone

      Admin: In the interests of disclosure, this person is using a false identity. He is a home owner of Northcote point and one of the founding members of NHPHS

      1. The council were the ones being appealed against. The court can demand costs back for anyone who paid legal fees but especially the defendant (Council).

        1. You cannot ask for costs you have not incurred, As Skypath trust was given money from the council to cover legal fees – they in turn cannot ask for costs and be expected an award. Council cannot ask for costs either, as they were not a party to the process.

          Admin: In the interests of disclosure, this person is using a false identity. He is a home owner of Northcote point and one of the founding members of NHPHS

          1. The Council were the defendant as NPHPS appealed the council’s decision.. That seems like party to the process to me.

          2. Fair point, well made! but I think the council would be very unwise to try and claim costs. It was already pretty low that the NRA was blackmailed over ‘costs’. There is an appeal process, it should be available to any affected parties. Now that it has been to appeal, both parties should respect the decision and that should be the end of it.

            Admin: In the interests of disclosure, this person is using a false identity. He is a home owner of Northcote point and one of the founding members of NHPHS

  10. Woohoo SkyPath is coming. The rest, as boring as usual. They haven’t even finished looping that other bit through Waterview, and now they want to cut the loop into two halves? Why can’t (couldn’t) they use this vision with trains? We know that building roads is not the answer to freeing up traffic, so why do we continue to flush public money down that drain? I hope the next government diverts this waste to Light Rail and airport rail, the so called cost benefit ratio is through the roof compared to this white elephant. Again…Woohoo SkyPath!!!

  11. Looking at that harbour bridge photo its not too much of a stretch to envisage a clipped on LRT or even an under bridge HR track.

  12. So how long before this thing is so popular we have to build one on the other side to separate walking and cycling conflict, like Sydney?

    1. Sure it’s not ideal, but I suggest you try out the NW cyclepath, it’s much more pleasant than even 2 mins riding on an arterial with farting buses.

    2. Why would they push their bikes on the cycleway? It is quite a gentle slope, especially on an ebike which many people have now.

      I can only assume you are against the project. History will look back and laugh at the people who opposed SkyPath.

  13. If they are going to build such a big viaduct, why not consider other options? For example from Sylvia Park Road to Walmsley Road/S20 Junction? Avoids the residential area, could tie into the train network at Westfield.

    Metroport could then have their own road connection.

Leave a Reply